The number of executions carried out in Texas has been declining at the same time as the rest of the nation.
However, Texas still executes far more prisoners than any other state. When inmate Raphael Holiday was put to death last month, he was the 13th convicted killer to be executed in the state this year. Texas has accounted for half of all executions carried out in the United States and has executed more people than in 2014.
Holiday was convicted of setting a fire that claimed the lives of his 18-month-old daughter and her two young half-sisters at an East Texas home 15 years ago.
The lethal injection was carried after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal and after a state judge had halted the punishment earlier in the same day. The Texas Attorney General’s office appealed that reprieve, and the warrant was reinstated.
The children died when the cabin about 100 miles north of Houston caught fire in September 2000. Holiday claimed he did not know what caused the fire. His estranged common-law wife had obtained a protective order against him at the time of the tragedy.
The execution followed days of dramatic last-minute appeals as Holiday called for new lawyers who he said would fight harder to stop his imminent death and a fleeting reprieve that Texas’ top criminal court ended up reversing. Here are some facts about the death penalty in Texas.
- Executions in Texas – At a GlanceTexas uses the death penalty far more than any other state. Since 1973, the Lone Star State has executed 531 inmates. Oklahoma recorded the second highest number of executions – 112.
- Since 1973, Texas has exonerated 13 inmates from death row after new evidence has come forward, according to the Death Penalty Information Center
- Southern states account for the bulk of all executions – 1,155 since 1976, followed by the Midwest where 177 executions were carried out.
- Texas was the first U.S. state to carry out an execution by lethal injection, executing Charles Brooks on December 7, 1982.
- Texas put 13 juveniles to death before the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roper v. Simmons, which changed the law. Texas had 29 juveniles awaiting execution, who were sentenced to life in prison and taken off death row in response to the landmark decision.
- Texas has 260 inmates on death row, down from a high of 460 in 1999.
- When Texas executed 10 inmates in 2014, it marked the lowest number of executions seen in almost two decades.
Although the number of executions has been falling in Texas, the state remains out of line with the rest of the country, which is becoming increasingly disenchanted with the ultimate punishment.